League of American Orchestras Volunteer Notes A PUBLICATION OF THE VOLUNTEER COUNCIL

The League of American Orchestras' Volunteer Council leads, advocates, and champions volunteer organizations in their efforts to support their orchestras' community outreach and civic partnerships to advance the experience of orchestral music.

Fall 2020 Edition

Irene Sohm, Volunteer Notes Editor | irene@sohmplace.com


President's Message

Meet Your President

Introducing Our Class of 2020 Volunteer Council Members

Improving Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Information and Context

Creativity and Flexibility Abound in Volunteer Gold Award Entries

The Volunteer Council


By Cindy Kidwell

"Symphony volunteers are a powerful group of people. They work tirelessly, they give generously, and they carry on creatively during a pandemic!"

It was absolutely uplifting for members of the Volunteer Council to read Gold Award submissions this fall, learning how organizations large and small managed their memberships and their fundraising over the past nine months. In the new Gold Award category, “Flexibility and Adaptability,” organizations were invited to showcase how they had shifted gears during these uncertain times. Amazingly, some organizations moved large, live events (like show houses and gala auctions) to on-line events in just two weeks—and they met their financial goals! Now, that’s a reason for a standing ovation!

I would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you on behalf of the Volunteer Council and the League to those in this volunteer community who generously showed their support of the League and its work on behalf our orchestras with a charitable contribution this past year. Your gifts have enabled the League to continue to provide valuable and timely resources to the orchestra field during these challenging times.

Many organizations supporting symphonies across North America have become proficient in Zoom communication to conduct business, to keep members engaged, and to host social events. They have held board and committee meetings virtually, and some have even hosted special interest groups virtually, like wine clubs.

No matter how your organization has continued its work of supporting symphonies, we all know that each volunteer matters, each volunteer has something to contribute. Some bring ideas, some donate time, some make monetary gifts. The simple act of paying dues is a commitment your organization can cherish—it is a commitment to help your orchestra get live music back on stage.

Even though you may have postponed in-person gatherings, I encourage you to continue to keep your members engaged. Consider going the extra mile with a phone call, a handwritten note, an email, an extra newsletter, or a Zoom social gathering. We need to keep our memberships strong now and into the future

Helen Keller said it best, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”


By Irene Sohm

Cindy Kidwell, our new president, has just taken over the reins of the Volunteer Council so we thought you might like to know a little more about her. She lives in Tyler, Texas, with her husband of 50 years, Randall Kidwell. She has two children: a daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Trent Dawson of Fort Worth, and a son and daughter-in-law, Courtney and Ryan Connor Kidwell, Sr. of Dallas. And importantly, she has five adorable grandchildren ranging in age from 6 to 10, as she will tell you herself. Cindy is a fifth generation Texan, having grown up in the small, East Texas town of Daingerfield. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a BS degree and from Stephen F. Austin State University with a MS degree.

Cindy has worked professionally in several areas, including serving as Women’s Editor of The Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel, hosting an educational television series for Texas A&M University Extension Service, and establishing an office of Consumer Affairs for Brookshire Grocery Company, whose stores are located in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. She retired from health care administration after 24 years with the now CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System where she managed the launch of Children’s Miracle Network benefiting children’s health care services.

Cindy came by her love of music early. She studied piano from elementary school through her early years in college and played organ for churches in the Daingerfield area. So, she has always loved music and was ecstatic when she and her husband moved to Tyler and learned that it had its own symphony orchestra—The East Texas Symphony Orchestra (ETSO). She immediately began going to concerts and was delighted to be asked to join the Women’s Symphony League of Tyler. She’s been volunteering in the WSL for 44 years and has served as President twice. She also has served on the ETSO Board, and on the board of the Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras.

Cindy and her husband love to travel and seek out beautiful gardens to tour across the U.S. and Europe. She is a passionate home cook and enjoys entertaining with her husband. Since retiring, she has become obsessed with mah-jongg and plays regularly with a group of special friends. Her concern during the school closings with the pandemic also found her on Zoom every afternoon at 4 pm reading long-distance to her precious grandchildren.


By Sharon Hatchett, Chair Member Recruitment

As Chair of the Volunteer Council’s Member Recruitment Committee, I am pleased to introduce you to our newest members of the Volunteer Council:

Sally Bullard joins us from The Philadelphia Orchestra where she served in numerous leadership roles over the years, including as President of all of the volunteer committees, as well as serving as chair of her own committee and chair for multiple events and initiatives for the orchestra. Sally is also no stranger to the Volunteer Council, as she also served as President of the Association of Major Symphony Orchestras Volunteers (AMSOV). In that capacity Sally served as AMSOV’s liaison to our Volunteer Council and actively participated in our meetings and activities.

Darlene Clark joins us from the Houston Symphony Orchestra where she currently serves as Vice President – Education and as a Board Member of the Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras (TASO). Darlene’s leadership experience also includes serving as Past President of the Houston Symphony League, among other leadership responsibilities, including serving as Chair of the Ima Hogg Competition for the Houston Symphony last year which was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Donna Hoffman is joining us from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra (OPO), where she served as President of the Friends of the Philharmonic, until becoming a member of the Volunteer Council. In addition, Donna’s leadership experience includes serving on the OPO Board, and in that capacity, she was appointed to the OPO Executive Committee. Donna is also past Chair of the OPO Human Resources Committee and was recently appointed emeritus to the OPO Board. She chaired numerous events while on the Board, in addition to carrying out the work of the Friends of the Philharmonic.

If you are not familiar with the Volunteer Council, I encourage you to check out this link: https://www.americanorchestras.org/board-members-volunteers/volunteers/league-volunteer-council.html.

Our Recruitment Process

Potential candidates for the Volunteer Council are identified from among a number of groups including:

• Leaders from volunteer associations who regularly attend Conference. We make it a point to get to know them.

• Candidates recommended by the AMSOV President. The sitting AMSOV President serves on the VC for a two-year term in an ex-officio capacity.

• Leaders from organizations who are recommended by current VC members whose terms are drawing to a close.

• Prospects recommended by our Sustainers (i.e., former VC members).

• Candidates identified by the VC based on committee outreach to various orchestras.

As a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta, an orchestra formed in 1987 by Maestro Paul Freeman to address the lack of diversity in the classical music field and to make classical music accessible for everyone, I hope that all orchestras get to experience the richness that diversity brings to their organizations and community. (http://www.chicagosinfonietta.org/about/)

Aligned with my own focus, the considerations that drive the Volunteer Council’s recruiting efforts include:

• Diversity- including geography, orchestra size, gender, age, race/ethnicity, among others.

• Number of current members rotating off the VC in any given year, with a focus on replacement of headcount.

• Great candidates brought to our attention, including those with skills/experience deemed a real asset to the VC.

Interested and Want More Information?

If you wish to know more about the Volunteer Council, I encourage you to contact our VC League Liaison Danielle Clarke-Newell at dnewell@americanorchestras.org.


By Janet Cabot

As orchestras around the country and by extension their volunteer groups work to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in their organizations, the League has reaffirmed its own commitment to advancing EDI in the orchestral field, and is continuing to provide member orchestras with information and online resources on the topic while creating opportunities for discussion. An article in the Summer 2020 Issue of Symphony Magazine, “Anti-Black Discrimination in American Orchestras,” provides important historical context for understanding the field’s persistent lack of ethnic and racial diversity. The author, Aaron Flagg, is a board member of the League of American Orchestras, where he serves as Board Secretary and as Chair of the League’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee.

Note: The video recording of the League’s Conference session, Anti-Black Racism and American Orchestras, led by Dr. Aaron Flagg, is also available here.


By Ginny Lundquist Chair, Gold Award Selection Committee

During the depths of the pandemic, our nation’s orchestras and musicians struggled to find a way to keep the music playing. And volunteers sought new ways to raise funds, increase audience participation, and engage members.

As part of its support for orchestra volunteers, each year the League Volunteer Council invites volunteer groups to compete for its coveted Gold Award of Excellence, awarding volunteer projects with best-in-class results. This year, nineteen volunteer groups, many of whom had not previously participated in the Gold Awards, submitted twenty-four entries. We heard from groups in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Nevada, California, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana and Texas.

New this year was a project category called Flexibility/Adaptability, which included a wide range of projects where volunteers had to pivot and change up how they communicated amid a COVID-19 landscape of empty concert halls and restricted gatherings. We have been encouraged by the creative approaches our volunteers have developed in the face of daunting conditions and we know you will be, too!

Soon we will be sharing the names of the winning entrants and preparing virtual presentations highlighting best practices and creative ideas for volunteers in this “new normal.” We’ll be announcing these online events in the near future. And we will showcase award winners (Gold, Spotlight, and Classic) in an upcoming special edition of our Volunteer Notes newsletter, on our Facebook page, and on the Volunteer portion of the League website.

And don’t forget to view the information on last year’s winning projects on the League website- they can be an important source of inspiration for your volunteer group!

2020-21 League Volunteer Council

Our Mission The purpose of the Volunteer Council is to support the mission of the League of American Orchestras by providing leadership, communication, and a resource link between the League and orchestra volunteers.

Leadership Committee

Cindy Kidwell, President (Tyler, TX)

Julie Meredith, President-Elect (Salt Lake City, UT)

Beth Wise, Conference Chair (Huntsville, AL)

Ginny Lundquist, Conference Chair-Elect (Detroit, MI)

Terry Ann White, Immediate Past President (Amarillo, TX)


Sally Bullard (Philadelphia, PA)

Janet Cabot (Madison, WI)

Darlene Clark (Houston, TX)

Bruce Colquhoun (Spokane, WA)

Marena Gault, AMSOV rep. (Dallas, TX)

Sharon Hatchett (Chicago, IL)

Donna Hoffman (Orlando, FL)

Charlotte Lewis (New Orleans, LA)

Kathy Leibrand (Kansas City, MO)

Laurie Skjerseth (Quad City, IA)

Irene Sohm (Santa Rosa, CA)

Camille Williams (Little Rock, AR)


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